The Great Race – Part 1







Wednesday 26th October


Tavern on the Park


“Diana darling – has my sister finally given you the all clear to come out?”


“She has indeed,” Diana de Ros said as she approached the table, wearing a light blue trouser suit with a white roll neck sweater underneath.  “Although I am still not a hundred per cent recovered, I can at least join you for lunch again.  How is the campaign going, Claire?”


“We should be all right – if we can weather this latest storm – but forget that for now, let’s just sit and eat,” Claire Morse said with a smile.  Both she and Kelly Rochermann had chosen to wear coat dresses that day.


“Diana – it is good to see you again.”


“And you Rachel,” Diana said as she stood and kissed Rachel McNally on the cheek.  “How are things?”


“Given the news,” Rachel said as she and Sandy sat down, “as well as can be expected.  Hello Gale – I see you found our princess?”


“Only because Jan and I had a Huntingdown meeting, and she met us getting out of the cab,” Juliette said as she sat down with Jan and Gale.  “So, what looks good?”


“Apart from the waiter,” Tonia said as she came in with Francesca and Eleanor.


“Yes, apart from him,” Sandy said as she shook her head.  “Where’s Liz today?”


“Doing something with her mother and sister,” Tonia said as she looked at the menu, “I’m just glad we can all get together for lunch again.  So, what looks good…”





“So is there any truth behind these rumors regarding Andre Kannenikov’s death Jan?” Claire Morse asked as they waited for the server to bring lunch.


As she looked up, Jan smiled and said “Rumors? What rumors?”


“Oh come off it Jan,” Claire laughed, “I know the FBI aren’t the ones investigating his murder but you guys hear things we don’t get to hear…”


“So spill please,” Rachel interrupted her friend.


“Let me put it this way,” Jan smiled as her lunch was served, “the NYPD are pretty sure that it was his private tastes for sado-masochistic sex that got him killed.”


“Who’d of thunk it,” Kelly Rochermann said as she shook her head.


“Thought what Kel?” Sandy whispered as she sipped her wine, “just because he was a famous person doesn’t mean he couldn’t be leading a secret double life you know.”


“I know,” Kelly sighed, “I guess like so many other people I tend to put celebrities on a pedestal and forget they are really just ordinary people as capable of having secret vices as anyone.”


“Anyway to answer Claire’s original question,” Jan spoke again, “the police are probing the stories that he’d been seeing a couple of boys secretly and that it was one of them maybe got nasty and killed him like that.”


“Ugggh, such a nasty way to die,” Gale said as she shook her head. “To be tortured like that…”


“Can we change the topic to something more pleasant like the party?” Juliette broke in. “I want to eat my lunch without having to think about all that.”


“Sorry Ju, I apologize,” Claire nodded.


“So are all of you set for this thing?” Diana asked, “I must say that I am actually looking forward to it immensely.”


“Well I’ve done everything I know to ensure it will be fabulous,” Kelly smiled.


“Well if our hostess thinks it will be a party to top all parties, I think we can be assured we will have fun,” Tonia laughed.


“And any plans for a dance off this year?”


“A dance off?”  Francesca sipped her wine and looked round the table.


“Don’t ask,” Kelly laughed.  “But no – just some amazing costumes I hope.  When do our British friends get here?”


“I think Aggie and her family arrive tomorrow, and the others Friday,” Diana said.  “The West Coast branch will fly in over the weekend.”


“And our daughters?”


“Come back for a long weekend this Saturday,” Kelly said with a smile.  “So you’ll be returning to London soon Francesca?”


“I will Tonia,” Francesca said as she wiped her mouth.  “The matters that I’ve been working on are being wound up, and my law practice in London needs me there to catch up on work that has piled up while Hannah and I have been in America.”


“Well we will miss you.”


“Thank you,” the Marchesa smiled, “but it’s also time for my daughter and granddaughter to return home as well.”


“At least you are staying for my party.”


“I wouldn’t miss it for anything Kelly,” Francesca smiled again. 


“Has that boat you bought arrived in England yet?” Eleanor asked.


“It should be there at the Marina in Whitstable in the next couple of days, and I will admit taking her out and teaching my daughter to sail are two things I’m looking forward to hugely.”


“I know how much you love sailing.”


“That is true Eleanor. Going out sailing was one of the things that helped me preserve my sanity all those years. Being out there on the water was a place I could go and forget everything that had happened, even if only for a short time.”


“We all need things and places we can do, and go to, so as to escape the pressures of living,” Diana looked serious, “for me that place is on the target range.”


“As it is for my daughter,” Janice nodded.


“Talking of Katy and shooting, I hear congratulations are in order,” Nessa spoke, “my granddaughter tells me that Katy won an important competition.”


“She did,” Janice took her turn to smile, “and she’s now trying to badger me into getting her a trophy cabinet.”


“She is going to need it Cherie,” Diana smiled as well, “Katy I think is going to be an excellent competitive shooter.”


“Katy has a lot to thank you for as her coach in that Diana. Anyway it can wait till she returns from these shows in Ireland.”


“Yes after having to be rearranged a couple of times they are now definitely set,” Juliette sipped her wine, “I got messages from both Eve, and from Orion that they will be held after Fiona’s funeral and memorial service.”


“Have you heard from Grace?”


“We have indeed – but she can tell us more when she gets back this weekend.  She’s flying over with Pippa’s aunt.”


“So what else is going on of importance?” Nessa asked as the waiter served coffee.


“Well Mother,” Sandy said as she took a cup, “I was going to tell you later, but with both Jan and Jeanne here I might as well tell everyone…”


Jan and Jeanne nodded as Nessa said “Tell us what darling?”


“That RCM has not only been invited back to Sebring next year, but Henri also applied for us to run at Le Mans next year…and our entry has been accepted.”


“IT HAS?” several of the women asked at the same time.


“Yes,” Sandy smiled broadly. “We will need to discuss logistics, finance, etc…”


“And even then we may not be in a position to race,” Jeanne interrupted.


“But we are going to see whether we can indeed go to France,” Jan said as Eleanor stared at her.


“Darling I’m so happy for you all,” Nessa let a couple of joyful tears go as she hugged her daughter.


“As I said it may not happen yet Mother,” Sandy said with a smile, “but it does seem a lot of people think RCM are ready for the big time.”


“How the hell could you keep that secret Jan?” Eleanor shook her head as she looked over the table. “I’d have been bursting to tell everybody straight away.”


“I’ve known for a couple of days,” Jan laughed, “and believe me it hasn’t been easy keeping quiet.”


“I bet.”


“But we felt we needed to talk to Lerrabella, also Shirley, Roy, and Augie, seeing they sponsor the team, before we went public.”


“I can understand that,” the former naval officer nodded.


“Papa also wanted to tell our support team as well,” Jeanne spoke, “and to ask Toni if she can drive as well.”


“She at least has raced the 25 Hours before,” Jan looked serious, “I for one know we will need her with us.”


“And she has agreed?”


“She has indeed – and Iain is allowing Denice time off if we go as well.  So, another reason to party next week!”


"So thinking of parties," Diana said as she sipped her coffee, "what are the arrangements looking like for Mick and Nell's engagement party?"

"Olivia and I made an executive decision, and we decided to..." Kelly started.

"Ask me to do the arrangements," Nessa finished.

"I was so snowed under with planning for Halloween,” Kelly said with a smile, “and Olivia is gearing up for the new Nick Wu collection coming out, so we decided to ask the best party planner we knew to do the work for us."

"Sounds like a sensible arrangement to me," Diana gestured to the waiter for another cup of coffee. 

"I've been talking with the young couple and I think we are going to give them the party they want."

"That's one of your great skills Mother," Sandy smiled.  “So where and when?”


“The 3rd – the night before we head to Santa Anita for the Breeder’s Cup.  I’ll let you know the where in due course – one or two things to sort out first.”


"I hope one or two of you will take care of my husband while I'm away for a couple of days," Gale said as she wiped her mouth with a napkin.

"You are going to be away Gale?"

"Yes, I need to spend a couple of days in Omaha seeing the lawyers about my inheritance. I'm going to be taking Allen with me, but that leaves Tom alone - and he's not exactly great at looking after himself."

"Can I be a fly on the wall when you say that in front of him?" Janice laughed aloud. "Not exactly the image my boss wants the world to know about him."

"Oh he knows how bad he is, but I figure that with takeout menus and sympathetic friends he can survive...just about."

"So what do you need see your lawyers for anyway Gale?" Tonia asked.


“Well, we are going to sell the ranch, and I need to look at the offers and make a decision.  We’re also setting up a trust fund for Allen, and there are some documents to sign for that – and, apparently, there is a safety deposit box that for some reason only I can open.  Could be interesting…”



2 pm

Xavier International


“Good afternoon, Madame,” Caroline said as she and Susan came into the conference room, Shirley sitting at the table. “I hope you have been updated with what happened?”


“I have indeed.  Has the winding down operation started yet Dominique?" Shirley asked.

"It has Madame,” Caroline said as she looked at her tablet, “we are sorting out just what we are going to do both with all the data and information that we obtained, and the operational uses that perhaps we can put some of that information..."

"As well as the people?"

"Just as you say Madame, what use we can make of the people we came across, and what we learned about them."

"Good," Shirley allowed herself a smile, "our purposes though being sometimes to what Commander Joyce will use that intelligence for when she returns to Washington?"

"Yes she will try bringing down a lot of these Russian criminal operations."

"While we may want to acquire a few of them for ourselves."

"That is what Susan and I have been talking about Madame."


“Excellent – and Penelope?”


“She is seeing Helen off with the Honoured Father today,” Susan said quietly, “and will be back in London the day after tomorrow, until she is summoned.”


“Quite.  She needs to be there for her, to be her partner in this as well.”



5 pm PT

Oakland Hills

The Clark Apartment


“What are you doing Dad?” Allison asked as she came into the kitchen to find her father looking at a pile of papers.


“The part of my job I hate since your sisters bought the shop darling…” Dave said without looking up. “All this damn paper work.”


“Anything I can do help with?”


“Not really,” Dave sighed, “I need to stay on top of all this crap, if I’m not going to end up driving Mary and Susie’s investment into debt.”


“Okay.”  Allison looked at her father a sshe closed the refrigerator door.


“I really enjoy the actual work at the shop,” Dave said as he sat up and stretched, “and business is good, but I never realized just how much of this stuff Gino used to have to do.”


“I’ll leave you to your homework and go do mine,” Allison smiled. “It’s not like I’m going out anywhere soon.”


“You know very well just why you are grounded young lady,” Dave looked up from what he was reading.


“I know Pops – it was just one late night…”


“You know the rules – come back when we say to come back.  Especially with David away, you and Suzie need to pick up some of the responsibility now.”  Dave looked at her as he said “and besides, bad enough you were late, but when I opened the apartment door…”


The telephone ringing interrupted his speech as he stood up, Allison whispering “saved by the bell” as she went back to her room.


“Clark residence.”


“Hey Dave it’s Maddie, Is Mary there?”


“She didn’t get back from her shoot yet Maddie, is this important?”


“Sort of…When are you expecting her?”


“In the next hour I guess,” Dave swapped the phone to his other ear, “can I get her to ring you?”


“Please. I’ve had an enquiry from the producers of one of the late night chat shows about Mary appearing.”


“Maddie,” Dave said with a sigh, “you know just how much my Poppit loves doing TV shows.”


“I know Dave. But with that new Cadeau Aphrodite campaign just about to start they’d rather appreciate her going on the shows and talking about it.”


“Well you can ask, but don’t expect her to be happy about it.”


“Get her to ring me when she gets home please.”


“Will do.”


“And how are things going for you yourself?”


“I’m trying to work on the books for the shop Maddie…For me this stuff aint easy.”


“I get that Dave, do I need send Liz up to do them for you?” the Englishwoman laughed lightly.


“I’d love the help, but no I gotta master this stuff myself.”


“Fair enough, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.”


“Gotcha – thanks Maddie.  Talk to you soon…”


8 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Holly,” Sandy said as she saw the petite blonde walk in, “Sands is out tonight?”


“I know – I came to see you and Heather,” she said as she sat down.   “I heard about – him.  Is that threat dealt with now?”


“We think so,” Heather said as she sat down, “we’ve certainly not heard anything else.”


“Thank God…   How the hell do I get out of all this mess Sandy?” Holly played with the collar of the cashmere sweater she was wearing. “I’m in love with two different people, and facing very serious prison time if one of those loves ever becomes public knowledge.”


“I know it’s not easy Holly, but at least you can rely on the friends who do know about you and my daughter not deliberately revealing the secret.”


“I know no one will do it deliberately,” Holly sighed, “it’s the possibility that someone does it inadvertently that keeps me awake at nights.”


“Do your parents still have no clue about you and Sands being lovers?”


“No Heather,” Holly said as she sat back, “and at least I can be thankful for that small mercy.”


“Why do they think you spend so much time with my daughter then?”


“They think I’m the victim of a teensy girl crush by Sands, that I’m just being very gentle in letting her be my friend.”


“Possibly the best thing – you’re not coming to California, are you?”


“I can’t – but I’m coming to the party with Tommy next week.  I just hope she understands this time…”


“Don’t worry, we’ll talk to her,” Sandy said kindly.


Thursday 27th October


Heathrow Airport


“So when does our plane leave,” Miley said as she and Laura put their bags down in front of the couch.


“We have an hour or so – why?”


“Because we need to…”


“Ah – that way,” Aggie said with a smile as she pointed to some doors, the girls laughing as they walked off.  Shaking her head, she sat down and looked at a magazine.


"Good afternoon Agnes,” she heard someone say, “are you flying to New York as well?"

"I am Marianne," Aggie said with a smile as she stood up and let the South African kiss her on the cheek. "Is John with you?"

"He is. He's getting me a coffee and something to eat while we wait. Is Donald with you?"

"No,” Aggie said as she and Marianne sat down, “he's flying from Paris later this afternoon. He had meetings to attend most of today."

"I understand. Are the girls with you?"

"Yes, they both needed to go to the loo, and then they wanted to go buy cokes, so they left their poor Mother to watch their carry-on luggage."

"Honestly children, what can you do with them?" Marianne laughed and smiled all at once.

"I know," Aggie laughed as well, "but truthfully I love them so much that they can pretty much twist me round their little fingers."

"Who can?" John Vosloo asked as he arrived carrying coffees for both himself and his wife.

"My daughters, they deserted me to go buy themselves something to drink."

"I'd have brought you a coffee as well if I'd known you were here Aggie."

"It's not a problem," Agnes smiled again as she saw her girls approaching carrying a tray of drinks, "it looks like they remembered me anyway."


“Oh – you got extra now Mum?”


“That’s all right – you remember John and Marianne Vosloo, don’t you?”


“Oh yeah – so you’re coming to the party as well,” Miley said as they sat down.


“We are indeed – what will you be dressed as?”


“Not saying,” Laura said with a smile.



“Do you think Ama will be pleased to see us, Mum,” Uma said as she looked out of the window at the boarding gate, wearing a blue sweatshirt and jeans.


“I know she will be – and with this party, it should be an interesting long weekend,” Rhona said with a smile.  “What else would you like to do while you are there?”


“Go to the park, maybe see a show?”


“Well, we’ll see what her mother can organise for us – excited?”


“Oh yes, Mum – to see my sister and her friends again…”



“So how long before we take off,” Miley said as she sat next to Agnes.


“Well, we should move back soon, and then…”


"Hello Dr Mc Adam," the man smiled as he spotted Agnes while she sat in her aisle seat, "taking advantage of your visa I see?"

"I am Mr McAdam," Aggie smiled, "and thank you for helping me get it."

"Well with the decision to quash your conviction, the special dispensation became unnecessary anyway."

"I guess so," Aggie looked up at the American. "Can I introduce my daughters? Girls this is Mr McAdam from the American Embassy in London, he's a clansman of ours."

"I'm proud of being a McAdam, and I've told a lot of people you will hopefully be coming to our clan gathering next year."

"I would not miss it for the world. Anyway this is Laura, and this is Amelia, though she prefers to be called Miley."

"It's nice to meet you."

"And you," Laura held out a hand.


As he shook it, Agnes said “so what takes you over?”


“Family birthday – enjoy the flight…”



4 pm GMT

Lardarn House


"Well I'm no wiser on the options regarding costumes for this party then I was before I started making those phone calls," Tamsin said as she took a drink from Tom and slumped into an armchair.

"Oh?" Paula asked as her husband gave her a drink as well.

"Some of our friends already own suitable costumes, others have rented costumes this side of the pond, and others are waiting till they get to New York," Tam said as she took a sip, "I'm no wiser regarding my options then I was earlier."

"At least the girls are catered for," Paula laughed as she crossed her legs, "I have to say it was a bright idea on Eve's part to raid the costume locker for the drama club at Benenden, and to create outfits there."

"An extremely bright idea darling, I just wish my brain was working as efficiently."

"So what is Charlie wearing on his New York debut as a Saint Tam?" Tom sat down.

"He isn't saying, and that is half my problem, if I knew what he was coming as then I could try and find an outfit that co-ordinates."

"There is an option you know Tippy. You could always ring Cassie and get her to bring something with her from Hollywood you know."  Paula smiled "It's what she's doing for all of us."

"I may just have to resort to that."


“Why not?  Now relax – the girls and Aggie are in the air now, and we’ll see them on Saturday…”


8 pm

The Village


"So how is school going for Uma then Rhona?" Caroline said as she put the coffee tray on the table and sat down.

"Well,” the older woman said as she accepted the mug, “she didn't like the transition from her primary school to her new school at first, but she's gradually settling down."

"I remember that problem when I started secondary school," Caroline started to pour the coffee. "You go from your little school where you knew everyone, and everyone knew you, into a place where most of the faces are strange, the work is harder, your friends are often not in the same class, and you are just a faceless unimportant first year."

"Aye I remember that myself," Rhona smiled as she took a sip from her mug.  “It's not easy at first, but you gradually adapt, and my Uma as I said she's getting there."

"I thought Ama would have more problems when she went to St Angela's, but she'd already made friends with several of the other girls  and she soon found a niche for herself."

"She was telling me how well her first training camp went with the Scottish girls football squad earlier."

"Another situation where I worried about her fitting in, but again she seems to have found her feet very quickly," Caroline looked across the room to where her daughter and Uma were playing with the babies, "she seems to have found a couple of the girls on the team who have become friends already."


“Still, to fly over and back on her own…”


“I know, but she is growing up – are you all right over there Ama?”


“I am Mom,” Ama said as she stood up, “but I think Mags needs to be changed.  I’ll go and get the bag.”


Uma nodded as she played with Rudi, until Ama came back and laid out the changing mat, smiling at Mags as she started to remove the nappy.


"They are both so beautiful," Uma smiled down at Mags as Ama changed her diaper.

"Most of the time they are," Ama laughed as she wiped the baby girl’s bottom, and fastened the clean diaper before she replaced the legs of her Babygro, "though changing time sometimes can be a little ugly."

"I can see that," the younger girl laughed as her sister disposed of the soiled diaper.

"But I enjoy babysitting them a lot.  They are beautiful, and to see such innocence is uplifting as well…"

"Do you think you will become a mother one day sister?" the younger girl looked at her sibling seriously.

"I hope so," Ama paused to think, "I have a lot I want to do with my life first, but yes one day I will probably become a mother."

"With Nick as the father?" Uma laughed as she tickled Rudi.

"Oh that I have no way of knowing," Ama smiled again, "but for now I love being with him."

"That's nice."

"So have you seen any boys you like yet?" Ama said as she sat back against the seat.

"No, boys are so silly, all they can do is talk about football," Uma shook her head.

"Well I like soccer too," Ama laughed.


“But you talk of your friends and what you are doing as well – the boys all seem to think their team is the most important and who will win the next game.  I wonder sometimes if they are just interested in that.”


“Well, I am sure that is not true,” Ama said as she looked at her younger sister.  “So you are looking forward to the party?”


“Oh yes – what are you wearing?”


“I have discussed that with some of the other girls – we are going as a group, but of what you will have to wait and see…”


Friday 28th October

9 am



Grace looked out over the harbour, her brown coat fastened to keep out the chill of the wind that blew in from the North Sea.  One or two small boats were making their way in between the two stone walls that sheltered the main berths, while a pleasure cruiser was slowly making its way out to sea.


“It’s a sight to gladden the heart, isn’t it?”


Grace nodded slowly as Mary Thomas came over and stood next to her.  “Yeah – I forgot just how beautiful it can be up here, so stark and yet so wondrous.”


“So, got over the effect of the full Scottish breakfast yet?”


Grace smiled as she said “so long as I forget what goes into a haggis…”


“No worse than some sausages I used to eat…”


"I forgot to ask Merlin,” Grace said as they turned and started to walk along Shorehead, “did Fiona ever bring you here?"

"Ai, she did Grace, just like I took her home to Steelbridge a few times."

"Don't take this the wrong way Mary,” Grace said as they turned onto the High Street, slowly walking past the shops, “but I've always found it hard to wrap my head round the idea that two of the most important women in the whole international scene, so at home in London, Paris, New York, etc, both came from small towns basically in the back of beyond."

"Fiona and I often talked about that," Mary took a deep breath of the salty air coming in off the North Sea, 'but I think that it was wanting to escape the drabness of places like this that was what drove us both to go to London and study fashion in the first place."

"And later?"

"I think,” Mary said as they passed some shops, “we both came to appreciate that wherever we wandered there was really no place quite like home, and we both became determined to stay in touch with our roots."

"I can appreciate that," Grace looked thoughtful, "I see Melford today in a very different way to how I once did.'

"I got that from how you have been talking Grace," Mary pulled her coat a little tighter in the chill breeze, "when I knew she wanted to be buried here it didn't really surprise me...Fiona always did say that one day she was going to come home."

"Well,” Grace said as they turned up and walked along Bridgefield, crossing the Carron as they did so, “we know now we can give her the sort of funeral she wanted."

"Ai we can, simple with very little fuss."

"She'd like that,” Grace said as they walked along, “but she'd hate the memorial service idea."

"She would," Mary smiled, "but as I was telling the dean of St Paul's this funeral is for Fiona, that service is really for her friends so they can mourn."

"I guess so," Mary said as they walked up to where a drive led to a tall pale sandstone building, the brown doors facing them and the building stretching out to each side with large arched windows.


“So this is the place?”


“Ai, Fetteresso, her childhood church.  Shall we?”


The two women walked into the main door, and entered the chapel, as a man wearing a clerical collar came out from a side door.


“Can I help you ladies?”


“I hope so – we’re looking for Dr Fyfe Blair,” Grace said as Mary looked round.


“Well, you have found him – you must be Grace Gresham and Mary Thomas.”


“Ai,” Mary said quietly as she walked over.


“Well, let’s go and get some coffee, and we can talk about Fiona…”


He indicated the side door he had come out of, Grace and Mary following him as they moved through a small office, and into a kitchen.  “I hope Gold Blend is acceptable – the stipend of a church minister does not go too far,” he said with a smile as he found three cups.


“I can imagine,” Mary said as they sat at a table, watching as he made three cups of coffee and brought them over.


“So,” Dr Blair said as he sat down, “first, may I add my own condolences to those I am sure you have already received.  I saw a report on her on Reporting Scotland when her death was announced – then I asked some of the older ladies of the church, and they told me how they remembered her in the Sunday School when she came here with her parents.”


“She often spoke of growing up here,” Mary said as she sipped her coffee, “and I know it was a big influence on her work ethic.”


As he nodded, he said “well, I have checked our records, and talked to the solicitor in London.  We have set the date for her funeral for the 10th of November – 11 am here, then 12.30 at the crematorium.”


“That fits well with the plans for the memorial service,” Grace said, “the Dean of St Pauls has suggested the next day at 2.”


“It would help if I knew who is likely to come,” the minister said as he looked at the two women.


“Well – I think it is those who were closest to her who will be here,” Grace said as she looked in a small notebook.  “I know her fellow editors, Anna Mitchell, Pippa Ashley and a couple of others, as well as myself, will attend – and Mary of course.”


“I know a couple of other names – two young ladies who Fiona was a real inspiration for, Jeannie Brewster and Kylie Mitchell, are both coming with their families, as is Juliette von Furstenheim.”


As he nodded, Grace said “I would imagine the Marquis and Marchioness of Ordford will come – as may Lord Archibald and Lady Victoria Gordon.  Linda Evangelista, of course – and Caroline Jameson.  Her daughter has a soccer camp that week again.”


“So the local police may be useful?”


“There will not be that many,” Grace said, “what about her family?”


“She still has some cousins – I’ll inform them as well, let them know the arrangements.  We have had one request from the local council however – they wish for the coffin to be driven through the streets, to mark the passing of one of their most famous daughters.”


Mary looked at Grace and nodded as she said “Ai that would be fine.  So, the practical arrangements?”


“You need to talk to the funeral director up here before you leave today – he needs to know what songs you wish to have sung, what to put into the leaflet – and who, if anyone, will speak or read.”


“Fiona left some instructions on hymns – as to who will do a reading, she has also made a request.  I’ll give the name to the director, but I need to tell her this weekend…”


3.30 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Hey Agnes,” Heather said as she opened the door, “come away in.  I was about to start making some coffee for the usual gathering.”


“Thank you for watching the girls while I had my meetings with the Torware executives,” Agnes said as she took off her great coat, revealing her grey jacket and skirt and white blouse, “and Donald had his meetings with the people at the UN.”


“Not a problem Agnes,” Heather said as she put the coffee maker on, “though I’ve barely seen Miley.”




“Yes, she’s spent most of the day watching my Lover preparing the drawings of a room she’s seeking to design for a prospective customer.”


“Aunt Sandy was showing me how she does her art, and about things like perspective,” Miley smiled broadly as she came into the kitchen, “it was really interesting.”


“Well as long as you didn’t get in Sandy’s way while she was working.”


“She didn’t Agnes,” Sandy said as she came in holding a couple of empty coffee mugs, “it was fun explaining how I draw and paint, and it’s lovely she’s interested in such things.”


“She’s VERY interested,” Aggie laughed gently.


“Yep.” Miley smiled again.  “Art is definitely my favourite subject.”


“So did you find anything to do darling?” Agnes looked at Laura as she walked in and sat at the kitchen bar, looking at a book as she put down a mug of coffee.


“Heather let me have a look in the library,” Laura said as she looked up, “just so many books I’d like to read Mum.”


“It sounds like you both had a great day then, each of you doing something you enjoy.”


“How were your meetings Agnes?” Heather asked as she passed her her own mug of coffee.


“We are getting down to the nitty-gritty of things like transportation costs if they go with the sites I’ve proposed for the new factories. It’s starting to get very technical as they try make the figures work to the company’s best advantage.”


“Where you earn your fees, and them their salaries,” a voice said from the door into the kitchen.


“Exactly,” Agnes smiled and turned round to talk to the newcomer, “and as astute a businesswoman as you are Vanessa, I know you understand just what I’m talking about.”


“Unfortunately I do,” Nessa took off her coat, “so when are you expecting your usual Friday afternoon group Heather darling?”


“Any minute now,” Heather glanced at her watch just as girlish voices were heard outside the kitchen back door.


“Oh yes – the legendary coffee clutch.  Are we going to gatecrash?”


“Almost certainly,” Heather said as Sands and Katy came in.  “Oh ho – visitors,” Kary said with a smile.  “Hey Miley – want to join us?”


“Okay then,” Miley said as she followed them out of the room.


“Hey Aggie – busy day,” Caroline said as she came in the back door.


“Very much so, but now I get to wind down for the weekend – You?”


“Just winding down a work project - I hope you don't mind Heather, but I gave Rhona your address and told her to bring Uma and come join us," Caroline gratefully took a mug of coffee.

"Not a problem.  What were they doing today?"


“Visiting the Metropolitan.”


“So why come here – apart from the chance to meet up together?”

"Well I know Ama wants to introduce her again to the girls so Uma can get to know her friends a little, and Rhona has said she'd like to have a talk with some of us about costumes."

"As I said it isn't a problem Caroline, though I might need a bigger coffee maker for so many visitors."

“That is a hint in my direction," Sandy laughed, "Heather spotted this monster machine in Macy's and wants me to buy it."

"Is it like the one that Juliette has up at Stowe?" April asked as she took off her sweater.

"Similar," Heather turned round as she started a fresh pot to brew.


“Might be a wise investment,” April said with a smile as Sandy went to answer the front door.  “Welcome – come on through,” they heard her say before Rhona and Uma came in one way, and George came in the kitchen door.


“Hey Mom – and this is?”


“My sister Uma,” Ama said as she came into the kitchen.  “Come with me, and meet some of the other girls again.”


As Uma went out, George said “Okay – where’s Katy?”


“Upstairs with your sister and my sister,” Laura said without looking up.


“Okay – time to get assignments done,” George said as he loosened his tie and headed out of the kitchen, Barbara passing him as he said “overwhelmed?”


“A bit – coffee?”


“Oh yes – I’m working this weekend and I need the downtime.”


“You don’t normally work weekends,” Heather said as she passed the mug over.


“Well, I have next week as vacay, so I said I’d do this as well.  My sister is coming into town, and coming to the party as well.”


“Vacay?  Barbara, are you going native on us?”


“Oh god – I am, aren’t I,” she laughed as Jan came in with Eva Eckholm.


“Welcome Eva – Mel just came in with the other girls, if you want to see her?”


“Time for that later – Andy is resting at the hotel, and I hear the coffee here is amazing.”


“It is,” Elaine Colman said as she came in.  “So – costumes?”





"Can I ask a favour of you Jeannie?" Uma asked shyly as she sat next to the model.

"If it doesn't involve me having to run anywhere," Jeans grinned at the African girl.

"No it doesn't," Uma took a breath, "you were kind and signed my book at the school fete, but would you do some autographs for two of my friends at school please?"

"Sure...That I can do easily, just let me..."

"Would you like our autographs as well?" Doc and Nikki interrupted, "we are both models as well you know?"

"Yes, but you aren't famous like Jeannie..."

"Oh that put them in their place," Ama laughed as she hugged her little sister.

"I'm not quite sure how insulted I feel," Nikki started to laugh as well.

"I did not mean to insult you?" Uma looked confused.

"Don't worry Uma, their egos could do with deflating," Ama laughed some more.

"Where do you want me to sign my name Uma?" Jeannie smiled at her two friends discomfort, 'and yes I agree with you, they really are nobodies."

"Oh those is fighting words Brewster," Doc started to laugh again.


“Oh lovely – the oldies are here.”


“Har de har, Poppy Ashley – How come you are late anyway?”


“Blame me,” Erica said with a smile, “I had to pick up something for Mom first.  Is she here yet?”


“Not yet,” Heather said as she looked in.  “Do you girls mind if Laura joins you for a few minutes?”


“Sure – come away in, you can spill the beans on what the others are wearing,” Nikki said.  “Is it true your Mom and others are coming as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?”


“Could be…”




"So the theme of the party is Heroes and Villains?"

"It is Rhona," Elaine Colman said with a smile as she sipped her coffee, "and you'd think with such a broad range of options in that theme, finding myself a costume I like would be easier than its turning out to be."

"And that's even before considering what we are going to persuade our husbands to dress as," April rolled her eyes.

"My husband wanted to come in his police uniform," Eva spoke.

"Well the police they are heroes," Barbara took a cookie from the plate.

"But it's just a trifle boring when he wears it every day," Eva also took a cookie, "and for our first Sinnerz Halloween party I want to wear a FUN costume."

"So what have you talked him into Eva?"

"Oh I have a couple of ideas," the librarian laughed to herself.


“And will he do it?”


“He may not have a choice in this matter…”




"So has House squared it with his coaches that he can fly home for Halloween Jeans?"

"He has Becca, and he's hired himself a Darth Vader costume, and as I planned I'll be going as Padme."

"Do you all have boyfriends who are coming to the party?" Uma asked.

"Most of us do," Doc smiled, "Though my 'partner' has not exactly been forthcoming on who she is bringing...Have you Niks?"

"As I said, just wait until the party." Nikki smiled.

"Will there be others like me there?" Uma spoke again.

"Like you how sister?" Ama answered.

"Girls without boys."

"Oh like that," Ama laughed, "yes there will be several girls without boyfriends there."


“You can join me in that, Uma,” Mel said with a smile, “stand together, eh?”




"Is Dan coming to the party Caroline?" Heather asked as she started topping up coffee mugs.

"He is."

"What costume have you got him to wear?"

"Actually,” Caroline said with a smile, “he came up with the idea."

"Oh?" Heather looked at her friend quizzically.

"He's a sucker for old westerns so he's had a few words with a few of our friends and we are coming as Wild West bandits, with him as Jesse James, and me as Belle Starr."

"Caroline as a lady bandit? I think I can see that," Mercy Kinman eased herself up onto a bar stool.

"What are you and Letty wearing Mercy?" Barbara asked.


“Oh we’re continuing a theme from last year,” Marcy said with a smile, “we’re coming as Burke and Hare…”


“Well, I’m stumped.  Will Mary Thomas maybe ring her friend the theatrical costumier to let us go raid her store?"  Emma Carlton asked.

"Well she's in Scotland seeing to Fiona's funeral arrangements, but I guess if I ask Ju she can ring her and ask," Sandy considered the problem. "I'm sure she will try and help though."

"Well help is what I definitely need."



"So are you settling in alright in our old offices Caroline?" Nessa asked as she leaned by the breakfast bar.

"We are starting to feel at home Nessa," the tall blonde smiled, "by the time I go to Iceland to start filming I'm hoping everything will be running totally smoothly."

"I have to compliment you on the fact that you are doing so well building your security business, all while also pursuing your modelling career."

"Well I have some excellent staff who do most of the hard work," Caroline blushed.

"Nonsense, I know just how hard you work, and I saw how full your case looked of work you are taking home for the weekend."

"It's stuff I need to get done, normally I try not to bring work home, but on this occasion...."

"I understand," Nessa smiled knowingly.


“So Ama will be spending tomorrow with Uma and Rhona while I get on with this…”



"So will there be a big European contingent over for Halloween Laura?" Doc asked.

"It looks like it from what I hear.  Kit – well, I guess I should say Aunt Tamsin and Cousin Kit are coming tomorrow with the Gaunts from Ireland, and Dad’s family fly later on with the Treharrans as well."

"Good thing then that the Rochermann's have all that space."

"It still might get crowded though," Becca said as she sat down.

"The group gets much larger and this might be the last year the party can be held in a private home, next year maybe it will need be held in a hotel."

"There are that many people Doc?" Laura looked a little amazed.

"It's getting that way...We might have to borrow your family place, I heard you have big parties there?"

"We do have quite a bit of room," Laura smiled as she thought how strange how few weeks ago it would have been unthinkable to think of the New House as her family home.


“Nah – Nessa would open Curragh Park up instead.”


“There is that,” Ama said as she sat with Uma.


“What is Curragh Park?”


“The little country home of the Richmond family – it has a fair amount of space…”




7 pm

The Rochermann Apartment


“That was Mick,” Nell said as she came into the drawing room, “he’s going to…  Ally, is Mom all right?”


“Yeah,” Ally said as Kelly sat with her, wringing her hands as she looked round, “just a patented pre-party panic moment…”


"Just seeing how full Sandy's place got this afternoon made me think - do we really have the space to host the party here darlings?" Kelly asked her daughters.

"Mom don't panic," Nell tried to reassure her Mother, "this will all turn out brilliantly."

"I wish I had your confidence," Kelly whispered as she picked up some sheets of paper, and cast her eyes down the list of expected guests.

"Did you warn the caterers that we will have more people here then you originally thought?"

"I did Ally, and they said it shouldn't be a problem."

"Well that's good at least..."

"But they used the word 'shouldn't'...Not 'definitely' won't be a problem," Kelly interrupted.

"It will be fine Mom."


“Look, you go and have a lie down,” Ally said as she helped her mother to stand up, “you’ll feel much better in the morning…”



The Morse Townhouse


“So Thomas will join us later,” Yvonne Leventhal said as she walked into the kitchen with Claire Morse.


“Indeed – Bobbi darling, is Simon settling in?”


“He is, but…  Mom I think there is something I maybe need tell you and Yvonne." Bobbi played with her hands as she spoke nervously.

"And what's that dear?" Claire asked as she and Yvonne worked together preparing the customary Friday night meal.

"Nothing serious I hope?" Yvonne asked.

"Not if you think you both becoming grandmothers isn't serious?"  Despite her nerves Bobbi managed a little smile as she stood there.

"Oh maybe one day," Claire smiled, "but that's a long way off yet."

"Yes we know you and Simon have sex, but you are safely on the pill," the English lady didn't even look up from what she was doing.

"Well about that..." Bobbi hesitated.

"About what darling?"

"About me being on birth control,” Bobbi said as she took a deep breath, “I sort of forgot to take my pills with me to Europe in the summer."

"That was careless of you Bobs, you really need to take them..." Suddenly, as she stood there, Claire registered where the conversation was going.  She put the knife she was using to cut the chicken with down, turned round and looked at her older daughter.  "Are you saying?"

"Saying what?" Yvonne looked confused as she turned round as well.

"Yes," Roberta looked down at her feet, “I went and saw Dr Boyd in Boston yesterday, and she confirmed it.”

"Confirmed what?" Yvonne still looked confused as Claire slowly walked forward, and hugged her daughter as they both started to cry.  "Will someone please… Oh my God!" The penny dropped as Yvonne shouted out “You're PREGNANT?"


“About eight weeks.  Mom, Yvonne, I know this is not exactly what you wanted to hear, but…”


Yvonne wiped her hands, and walked forward, hugging them both as she said “shut up – I’m going to be a Grandmother.  I…  Dear Jahweh, what is Colin going to say?”


“Colin?  What is Tom going to say!  Who else knows?”


“Well – apart from Simon – at the moment, both of you.  But – Mom, he’s going to talk to Dad when he gets back.”


“How…  How is Simon?”


“In a little bit of shock, truth be told – but he wants to do the right thing, and I want to keep this baby, so if you…”


“No,” Claire said quietly, “that thought never crossed my mind, but with the election coming up…”


“I know – and we do need to talk to Dad about that.  Simon and I are both due to finish our degrees at the same time, but we need to discuss how we get through the next eighteen months.”


“We need to discuss how we get through the next seven months,” Claire said as she looked at her daughter.  “Look – the election is about two weeks away.  Let Simon talk to your father – then, when we have eaten, we can discuss how to manage this.  But…  Oh Father, I never thought I would be next after Ju…”


“How do you feel,” Yvonne said as she looked at Bobbi.


“A little scared, but thanks for asking.”


"I think we need keep this a family secret for a few weeks," Claire said as she wiped her hands, "you haven't told any of your friends have you darling?"

"No, I sort of thought I ought tell you guys first."

"Have you told your sister?"

"No," Bobbi smiled as she shook her head, "I'm not sure Becca can keep secrets."

"She must be told, and soon..."

"And so must my mother-in-law," Yvonne smiled. "she is going to be so thrilled that she's going to become a great grandmother."

"You guys are being so great," Bobbi smiled, "I thought you'd maybe freak out at the news."

"Bobbi darling, it's a bit of a shock,” Claire said quietly, “but I think we could all see that you and Simon are perfect for each other, and yes baby before marriage isn't what people expect, but we can all live with that."

"We certainly can," Yvonne said as she hugged the younger woman.   “Come on – help us prepare the meal and then we can talk things over.”



7.30 pm

The Astoria Waldorf


“I had no idea you would be in New York as well,” Marianne said as she sat in the hotel bar, looking at the tall brunette in the seat opposite.  “Peter just sprung it on you?”


“He did indeed,” the other woman said as she took a sip of her wine, “so what brings you and John over here anyway?”


“Believe it or not, a party and a day at the races – now that he has retired, we get to relax a lot more.  In fact – well, there’s my other dinner guest for tonight.  FRANCESCA!”


The brunette turned her head and smiled as Marianne waved to the blonde who had just walked into the lobby.  As she walked closer, she tried not to chow her recognition as the new arrival said “Marianne, darling,” kissing her on both cheeks – and then looking at the third person there.


“How is Charlotte and the family?”


“She’s resting tonight – and John has a meeting, so this is a female friends night – on which subject, Francesca di Cambrello meet Alexandra Green-Hope...Alex meet Francesca."

"Delighted," the woman said as she smiled and stood up.  Francesca looked at both of them, Marianne in her blue coat dress and heels, the other woman in a trouser suit made from linen and a grey camisole top.

"I'm not sure if you two ever met, but Alex rides at the club as well," Marianne smiled as well as she motioned for Francesca to join her and the tall brunette.

"We may have, A lot of the people I met in Pretoria I've forgotten over the years," Francesca struggled to control her body from shaking as she sat at the table.

"Yes, that is understandable - twenty five years is a long time," the woman spoke with that hybrid South African/English accent that girls learned at boarding school.


“Three more glasses of wine please,” Marianne said to a passing waiter.  "Can you two chart while I have a pee?"

"We can try Marianne," Alex said as she looked at Francesca.

"Yes we can try darling." Francesca answered as well.

"Oh good, I won’t be long," Marianne said with a smile as she headed towards the powder room.  The two women looked at each other, before the waiter put three more glasses of wine on the table, Francesca picking one up and taking a drink. 


As she set it down again, she leaned forward and whispered "It's been a long time Mouse."

"So it has Bruin," Alex whispered back, their voices barely audible.  “I have to admit, I should have realised Marianne would have called you – how is the new granddaughter?”


“A real beauty,” Francesca said with a smile. 


“I’m glad you and your daughter are fully united now – it was a magnificent wedding.”


“You were not there?”


“No – but I watched the coverage, and I read the reports.”


Nodding, Francesca whispered “So are you here for work Alex?"

"No,” Alex said with a smile, “my husband sprung this trip to New York on me as an anniversary present."

"That was nice.  Very nice…"

"I heard through the grapevine you'd retired Francesca."

"They let me go yes, but I've had a few things to do even though I'm out of the game officially."

"So I heard.  Some very interesting things coming out of the London and Washington bureaus,” Alex said with a smile.

"Deputy Assistant Controller at SACIC I'm told?"

"Yes I am...they never did work out that I was one of your people."

"I never told anything,” Francesca whispered, “and I destroyed the last evidence linking us when I got to empty out my old bureau while in Monaco...Your identity is safe Alex."


“I know Hennie is still determined after all these years to unmask the traitor."

"He tried to put pressure on me to give you up when I first retired," Francesca nodded.

"And John I think would still love to know."

"Yes he would," Francesca looked round, "Marianne is coming back."


“So what were you talking about,” Marianne said as she sat back down.


“Being a grandmother, and rediscovering the life of an advocate,” Francesca said with a smile.  “So, where shall we eat tonight?”


“Well, here is fine,” Alex said as they stood up, and made their way to the restaurant.  “Talking of riding, as we were, how is the ranch coming along Marianne?”


“The horses are settled, and the group we’ve employed have really got to grips with the task of looking after them,” Marianne said with a smile as the maitre d’ showed them to a table.


“Well, given John’s retirement now, it does give you something to focus on,” Alex said as they sat down.  “No interest in taking up riding, Francesca?”


“Oh no – I’m a sailor, not a horse person,” Francesca said with a laugh, “and I’m looking forward to finally getting to try my new boat out in a couple of weeks.”


“Oh yes, you mentioned that – you would have been there before now, if you hadn’t been kept out here.”


“True, but now my work here is done, I can finally go and sail it,” Francesca said as she perused the menu.  “I’ll have the turbot please.”


“Steak,” Marianne said, and as Alex ordered the linguini and wine was selected, Alex said “so do you have any pictures of your granddaughter, Francesca?”


As she smiled and showed Alex the photos, Marianne said “will they be coming to the Breeders’ Cup meet?”


“I believe so, and the Halloween party.”


“Oh yes,” Alex said with a smile, “the Saints and Sinners.  I read about them in Cosmopolitan.  Quite an eclectic group by all accounts…”


As they ate their meal they made small talk about riding, but while she kept up her end of the conversation perfectly, Francesca was in fact thinking about how she had first met Alex.


It had been while she was still a first year midshipman at Livorno and Alexandra Green had been an officer cadet from the South African Naval College on secondment to study in Livorno.  They had barely known each other, but Francesca knew now that it was while she was at Livorno that Alex had made contact with La Citadella to offer her services to Italian intelligence, and that she had been recruited, given the codename Mouse, and sent home eventually to await activation.


“Now I know where we met before,” Alex said with a smile, “the Naval Academy.”


“I didn’t know you had been to Italy,” Marianne said as Francesca shook her head.


“It was a secondment – you were a couple of years behind me, if I remember rightly.”


“Oh yes – I remember now….”


When Francesca had been sent to Pretoria to take over the intelligence station she had been given the names of a couple of sleeper agents and the means of contacting them clandestinely. That Alex by then was serving as a junior officer in the Combined Intelligence Command, was a boon to Francesca as she set up her networks and activated them.


“So what exactly does John do for Xavier International?”


“He is their African director, with responsibility for their projects,” Marianne said, “and he also oversees some of Francesca and Charlotte’s projects?”


“Your projects,” Alex said with a smile and a raised eyebrow.


“Indeed – Charlotte heads up a group which finances small businesses for women in Africa.  Both John and I sit on the board of governors, along with Dr Agnes McAdam.”


“Now there’s another person I would like to meet,” Alex said as she sipped her wine, “a fascinating mind.”


“Well, she’s staying in the hotel with her family, so you may get the chance…”


As the plates were cleared, Francesca’s mind went back to those days in Pretoria.  Over the years that Francesca had operated in there, the intelligence provided by ‘Mouse’ had probably been of more value to her masters then almost anything her other agents had supplied, and Francesca had duly prized her as an asset.


In the years since her expulsion Francesca had kept almost as close, and protective, eye on  Alexandra Green as she had on her own daughter, desperate to ensure that her prize agent never met the fate that had befallen poor Giancarlo Pietri the agent she had been caught paying off, and who had been executed for treason.


No – luckily, the Mouse went into hibernation when she had been expelled, and though the South Africans knew that she had had an agent inside the SACIC, she had never thankfully been exposed.  And now she was in a position of authority – Francesca silently thanking God she was not in the service any more…


“Girls I have to answer the call of nature again,” Marianne said quietly as she stood up and headed towards the toilets.


“So what does your husband do Alex?” Francesca asked very quietly as the waiter served coffee.


“He’s a civil servant.”


“Oh? What kind of civil servant?”


“Rather like a few of your friends are Francesca,” a smile crossed the Mouse’s face, “he sits on the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee.” Alex smiled again as she said “and I won’t insult you by assuming that you have no clue what NICOC is.”


“Your equivalent of my country’s Comitato interministeriale per la sicurezza Della Repubblica?”


“Yes, very similar to your CISR.”


“So he’s not only your husband, but also in many ways one of your bosses?”


“You might say that.”  Taking a sip from her coffee, Alex said “my turn.  I heard rumblings from a number of places of something going down here in New York with our friends from Moscow – and that your and your daughter got caught up in it.  Any truth to that?”


“I’m retired,” Francesca said with a smile.


“Yes, yes you are – and yet the rumours suggested while certain official parties knew, it was another group doing the work.  A group who may have had something to do with events in Mazengewe, Mologa and recently in Zim.  A group which, if the rumours are correct, would have approached you as soon as you had retired.”


“No comment,” Francesca said as she looked at her old contact.


“Alright what were you talking about while I was gone?” Marianne asked as she sat down again.


“Alex was telling me about her husband.”


“Did you ever meet Peter Hope Francesca? He was working in the Foreign Ministry back then.”


“I might have done Mari, to be honest I met so many people back then I have no clue who I did and didn’t meet.”


"I think if Francesca and I both talk to our friends we can get both you and Peter invites to the Halloween party, and to come to the races in California if you want?"

"Well I must admit it would be something to tell everybody back home, that I went to a couple of things like that..."

"Ask Peter then Alex," Marianne smiled, "and by the way my friend told you a little half truth earlier, yes she loves sailing, but Francesca also rides very well really, and she has more than just a casual interest in racing."

"You asked if I was interested in taking up riding," Francesca smiled.

"Alright I phrased it badly," Alex laughed, "I should have said do you ride a lot, or something similar?"

"Exactly," Francesca laughed as well. "But changing the subject, yes if you can talk him into it please come to the Sinners things, I know you'll be welcome."




9 pm

The Morse Apartment


“There you are,” Claire said as Tom appeared, “what happened?”


“Flight delay – Yvonne, Colin, forgive me for not joining you for dinner.”


“These things happen,” Sir Colin Leventhal said as Simon stood up.  “Mister Morse,” he said quietly, “I wonder if I could have a word with you – in private.”


Tom raised an eyebrow, and said “of course – is there any food left?”


“I’ll go and get it for you,” Claire said as Tom and Simon left the room, Bobbi watching as Yvonne put her hand on hers.


“He’s going about it the right way – be brave,” she said with a smile as Simon and To talked outside, Tom standing there and then shaking his hand.


“Did you know,” Tom said to Colin when he came back in.


“Of what Simon wanted to do?  Yes.  Why today?  No.”


“Well,” Bobbi said quietly, “there was a reason for that, Dad.  You’d better sit down.”


“Okay – not that I object to the proposal, I’m more than happy to give me blessing, but…”  Tom looked at Bobbi, then at Yvonne and at Claire as she came in with a lap tray.  For a moment, there was silence, and then Tom said “you’re pregnant?”


As Bobbi nodded, Tom stood up and walked over to his oldest daughter.  “I’m going to be a grandfather?”


“You’re…  You’re not upset?”


“Of course not – but who else outside this room knows?”


“Nobody – apart from Karen Boyd.  Why?”


“Well, let’s not say anything about anything until after this election is over.  Got that, Rebecca?”


“How did you know I was listening,” Becca said as she came in.


“Instinct – but not a word to anyone, all right?”


“Sure – but I’m gonna be an aunt?  For real?”


“I guess so, trouble,” Bobbi said with a smile, “when others know, you can get some practice in babysitting with Ama…”


Saturday 29th October

8.30 am

The Astoria Waldorf


"So how did dinner with Marianne's old friend go last night?" Peter Hope asked as he sat down for breakfast with his wife and the Vosloo's.

"Very well darling, how did your little side 'business' trip to Washington go?" Alex asked as she sipped her orange juice.

"I got it done, and that's the main thing," the bearded man smiled, "but catching that first flight back to New York so I could be here in time for breakfast was not fun."

"Well at least you are here darling, and for the rest of our trip you get to relax."

"Yes I do."  Peter reached over and kissed his wife as John smiled.

"And talking of relaxing," Marianne said as she put her phone down, “Kelly Rochermann says you are both more than welcome to come to her Halloween party, and I'm equally sure I can arrange transport to the Breeders Cup."


“And this party is a costume one?”


“Indeed” John said, “the theme is Heroes and Villains, so put your thinking caps on.”


“And what do you two have in mind,” Alex said with a smile.

“No comment,” Marianne said with her light laugh.


"So what else did you talk about last night?"

"Husbands, Francesca's granddaughter, horses...usual female gossip," Alex smiled.

"Oh and Alex remembered she'd met Francesca years ago at the Italian Naval Academy," Marianne said as she signalled the waiter they were ready to order.


Peter raised an eyebrow as Alex said “you know I spent a year there, darling.”


“I know – it was a long time ago though…  So I hear she is back in practice as an advocate?”


“Well, she works with Sigrid Mannschen, providing advice and counsel,” Marianne said as she ordered her meal.  “And her base is in London mainly.”





1 pm

JFK Airport


"Well here we are again," Paula Gaunt smiled as she pushed her luggage trolley through the airport.

"New York, New York, so good they named it twice," Aileen laughed as she sang the words.

"I want to see EVERYTHING," Clodagh declared as she held her sister’s hand.  Like her she was wearing a jacket over her jumper and jeans. "I didn’t get to see much last time, and I want to be able to boast at school about all the things I saw, and did."

"Well to see everything you'd need a life time darling," Eve Stone said with a smile as she put an arm round her young niece. "I've been coming here for over 50 years, and I've barely scratched the surface."

"And since the school wants us back, we have to fly home far too soon," the younger Eve laughed as well.

"Ugggh don't remind me," Aileen spoke, "all this damn prep to do while we are here."

"It was the only way I could talk the school into letting you all come darling," Paula said as she handed the form to the Customs officer, and they all walked into the arrivals lounge.  She started looking round for the limousine driver that Tom had engaged for the length of their stay, as she continued "that you brought schoolwork with you to do."

"And we made the same promise," Cat looked at Tamsin who nodded in agreement.

"We know," Kit and Liz spoke in unison and rolled eyes, making clear their ideas about the arrangements.

"Well now you are here girls, let an old man advise you - just relax and enjoy yourself darlings," Stephen Stone had a twinkle in his eye as he spoke.


“Quite right,” John Gaunt said as he held Kit’s hand.


“It’s al right for you, mister Oxford Undergraduate,” Eve said as she stuck her tongue out and looked round.

"Ah there he is," Tom spotted a black man holding up a sign with Duke of Lardarn on it.


“Welcome, your Grace,” the driver said as they walked over, “come this way please…”




"I hope you and your family enjoy your visit Mrs Babbage," the guy on the Immigration desk smiled as he handed Sherry back her passport.

"Oh we intend to," Sherry smiled back as she made her way through with her younger children.

"So are we all here?" Ray Cornwall asked as he counted heads.

"Five Babbage's, Four Cornwall's, I think that's us all," Kay laughed lightly.

"All of us in New York together," Mike also laughed, "and Agnes and Donald already here, are the Americans going to regret us all being here at the same time?  Do you all remember that trip we took to Amsterdam when we were students?"

"Oh yes I do," Ray rolled his eyes.

"Anything that you care to share with your children?" Alice grinned at her elders.



“We were young, carefree, and slightly stupid,” Sherry said as they made their way through to the luggage claim.




“This is even bigger than London,” Edwina Treharran said as she stood with her family, waiting for their cases to come through.


“We’re not going to have to eat hot dogs all the time, are we,” Charlie Treharran said as he looked round, “and do all the policemen carry guns?”


“No, and yes in that order,” Mike said as he and his father started to load cases onto two trolleys.  “For now, we get our stuff, we get to the hotel, and we relax for a couple of hours.”


“Easy for you to say,” Fi said as she looked at her phone, “Missy wants us to meet the new comptroller at Norstar tomorrow.”



“Are we all going to be here,” Olivia asked.


“Nope – West Coast are flying in tomorrow night, but I guess Missy is just sharing out the love…”



1 pm

Park Avenue


“So I hear that you are settling into your new school, Uma,” Maisha said as they sat in the kitchen of the apartment, the remains of the lunch on the plates in front of the three girls.


“I am, although it was very strange at first,” Uma said with a smile.  “I am learning new things every day, and making some new friends as well.”


“But no boyfriend yet,” Ama said with a smile as she sipped her fruit juice.


“No, no boyfriend yet,” Uma smiled shyly as Rhona came into the kitchen with John.


“Well, I have some good news,” Rhona said with a smile, “John has managed to get some tickets for the matinee of Aladdin this afternoon, if you are interested?”


“Oh yes,” Uma said with a smile, “I think I would enjoy that, won’t you Ama?”


“Well, I have tickets for all four of you to go,” John said with a smile, “I need to go to Complete Style for a meeting…”




3 pm

Complete Style


“John – come in,” Juliette said as she sat in the confernec room with Anna and Pippa, “we’re glad you could come today.”


“My pleasure – is this to do with Annie?”


“I hope so,” Anna said as Alexis looked in.  “They’re here,” she said as she opened the door, Grace coming in as the door closed behind her.


“Where’s Mary,” Anna asked quietly.


“She had to go to the Cave to take care of something,” Grace said as she sat down and rubbed her eyes.  “Remind me never to have a week like that again unless I have to.”


“We appreciate it,” Pippa said quietly as she stood up, poured a mug of coffee and handed it to Grace.  “So what is the word?”


“Well, Mary has the tribute issue well in hand, and her staff are certainly doing a good job,” Grace said before she took a sip from her mug.  “Her solicitor has done an amazing job, and her affairs were indeed in order.”


“So what are the arrangements,” Juliette said quietly.


“The funeral, as per her will, be in Stonehaven on Thursday the 10th of November.  Church, then crematorium.  I’ve asked Marina before coming in here to make sure there are enough hotel bookings in the area, Anna.”


“Not a problem – I take it the funeral is family and close friends only?”


Grace nodded as she said “Mary and I gave some names to Doctor Frye, the minister.  We presumed the editors, Juliette, and a few others such as Kylie and Jeannie.  I called Mother before coming here, and she knows who else to contact.


“One thing – the town wishes to pay its respects, so there will be a procession from the town to the church.  We need to let the local police know who will walk in the procession, and who will wait at the church.”


“Let me call round and get that for you,” Pippa said as she made a note.


“Next up – and Mother is spreading the word on this already – there will be a Memorial service the next day at St Paul’s in London – Agnes very kindly spoke to her uncle, who is the dean there.  Anyone who wishes to speak should let Mary know ASAP.”


As she took a long drink from her mug, the door opened and Mary came in.  “Apologies – I had to sort something out,” she said quietly as she sat down.  “Have you told them?”


“About the funeral and the memorial yes – Anna?”


“We’ll organise a reception for after the memorial service,” Anna said quietly, “make sure everyone knows.  Had many requests to speak yet Mary?”


“Just got off the phone with Mother – some of the UK press wish to speak.  You’d better tell them the other thing now lass.”


“The memorial service is at 2 that day – but at ten that morning,” Grace said as she looked round the room, “all of us need to attend the reading of her will at the solicitor’s office.”


“All of us?”


“Oh yes – and one or two others who I know will be there…”





3 pm

The Brewster Brownstone


“Caroline – come on in,” Jeannie said as she wheeled herself back, allowing Caroline to come into the house.  “Mum and Granddad are out, but I can make some coffee if you want.”


“Please – are you alone then?”


“Not quite Darling,” she heard Kylie drawl before she walked into the kitchen, “we were just finishing off a design assignment.”


“Well, it saves me making two trips,” Caroline said as she sat down.  “Grace is back, and she’s asked me to pass on some news to you?”


“The funeral arrangements?”


“Yeah – and thanks,” Caroline said as Jeannie wheeled back, a mug of coffee in her hand.  “The funeral is on for the 10th, in her home town, and there is a memorial service the next day in London.  I presume you will both wish to go to both – Grace will clear it with Miss Tennant.  Ama is at a training camp, but I will be coming over before heading to Iceland.”


“I’ll let Granddad know,” Jeannie said, “Kylie?”


“Marina and I will talk later.”


“One other thing,” Caroline said, “the morning before the memorial service, all three of us are required to attend the reading of Fiona’s will – apparently, we are mentioned in it.”



7 pm

The Astoria-Waldorf


“Well, I’m glad you all managed to arrive safely,” Agnes said as she stood in the private dining room with her extended family, Miley and Laura sitting with Aileen, Clodagh and Eve as waiters served drinks to the others.


“We’re glad we made it darling,” Mandy said with her slow drawl, “despite the delay to our flight.”


"So are you enjoying Balliol John?" Donald asked the tall young man as they stood to the side.

"Yes and no Uncle Donald,” John sad as he adjusted his glasses. “I'm enjoying college life, but reading law is just as hard as I was warned."

"I remember hearing Catriona say that many years ago," Agnes smiled as she came over.

"And PPE was easy?" Donald laughed and kissed his fiancé as John shook his head.

"I think reading law might have tested my brain," Aggie smiled a second time.

"Like hell it would darling."  Mandy laughed as she looked across the room.

"Well as a thicko reading Land Economy,” Jack said as he stood with Pepsi, “I have to say..."

"JACK!" his fiancé  interrupted him with a hit on the side of the head, "everybody knows now you aren't stupid, so don't pretend you are."

"Quite right Pepsi," Tom Lardarn said as he smiled gently, "even Cambridge doesn't give out firsts to the stupid...well at least not anymore."

"You know your inter-university and inter-school rivalries are worse than ours even," Pepsi shook her head.

"They can get a bit silly I agree," Tamsin said as she sipped her drink, "and since I went to university in Dublin I have no role in this argument."

"What was it that they used to say," Donald looked at his future sister-in-law with merriment in his eyes, "Trinity Dublin is where you go if you are too stupid to get into either Oxford or Cambridge?"

“NO!" Tamsin laughed, 'and just be thankful my Chris is no longer with us, he might just have said a few words about that."

"I remember," Paula smiled as well, "he once got quite angry with Tom for inferring such a thing.'

“And besides, it’s not true – its Glasgow they go to,” Angel said with a smile.


“And how is your course going darling?”


“Good so far,” Angel said with a grin.


"And, in the interests of some of us, just think of all of us who never even went to university?" Eve spoke as she sat with Stephen.

"Darling sister it's not like you didn't have the chance," Tom smiled.  “Three A's at A-level would have got you in virtually anywhere."

"She always wanted to be a model more though," Stephen hugged his wife, "and I think she was proven right darlin's."

"Like me choosing to go to the Abbey School and study acting," Cassie poured herself another drink, "it was what I wanted to do far more then go to uni."

"We seem to have strayed a long way from my original question to John," Donald laughed, "but I'll agree we all need do what we see as best."

"And tough or not, I know he will make a great lawyer one day," Kit linked her arm through John’s and leaned up to kiss him.


Donald looked to the door and smiled.  “Ah – dinner is served.  Shall we?”



4 pm CT

Oakland Hills

The Clarke Apartment


“Hey – anyone home,” David said as he opened the door, smiling as Mary looked out from the front room and said “hey – not at the game today?”


“Nope – the House is meeting us at the airport tomorrow, but these two wanted to drop in and say hi,” David said as Sally and Trina came into the apartment as well.  “Something about making sure they’re not clashing with you?”


“Well, that and wanting to be with my man,” Sally said as she held David’s arm and kissed him on the cheek.  “So where are the others?”


“Vikki and the boys are at the cinema, and as for Suzie she’s doing a photo shoot.”


“And Allison?”


“Still grounded,” Allison said with a wry smile as she appeared from her the bedroom door.  “I guess I have to show I can behave myself for the rest of this week.”


“Well, after what happened at Sebring,” Mary said as she shook her head, “what did you think was going to happen when Pops opened the door on both of you?”


Allison shook her head as she headed for the kitchen, whispering “come the HOTS this time” as they heard the coffee machine start.


“Y’know, I never thought it would be Allison,” David said as he looked over.


“Anyway, got your costumes sorted out,” Mary said as she looked at Trina and Sally.


“Yeah – I decided to go to my family history, and a claim jumper am I,” Trina said with a smile.


“And you Sally?”


“David and I are doing a double act.”


“Bonnie and Clyde?”


“Nope – Rocky and Bullwinkle…”



8.30 pm

West Central Park


“Katy is at Marina and Kylie’s apartment- they offered to share some of their meditation lessons with her,” Jan said as she sat with Eleanor Ball and Yvonne Leventhal, “and Mom is at a re-election meeting.”


“Ah yes – Tom was telling us about that today,” Yvonne said as she held her coffee cup, “not too long now until the day.”


“A week on Tuesday,” Eleanor said quietly, “and I cannot shake the feeling this country may be about to do something almost as stupid as the UK did earlier this summer.”


“You mean he may win?”


Eleanor nodded as Yvonne shook her head, took a drink of her coffee and then put her cup down.  “It must be something in the air,” she said as she shook her head, while Jan looked to the door.  “Can I just say, it makes a refreshing change for the men to do the dishes?”


“Are you saying we are not domesticated,” Adam said as he and Clive came in.


“No – but thank you,” Eleanor said with a smile as they sat down.  “So where is Simon tonight?”


“They went to have dinner with Annie and Carina, and to visit the babies,” Yvonne said as Eleanor looked closely at the smile on her face, and then whispered “no…”


“No what,” Adam said as he looked at his mother.


“Yvonne, is there something you wish to tell the room?”


Smiling, Yvonne said “nothing I can say at this time – please be patient with us…”


The Village




“Yes – but don’t tell anyone for the moment,” Bobbi said as both Carina and Annie looked at her and Simon.  “Pops wants it kept under wraps, and we’ll make a formal announcement after the election.”


“As if we haven’t had enough weddings,” Annie said as she shook her head, while Rudi sat on her knee, “but congratulations, both of you.  So have you fixed any dates yet?”


“Not yet – the issue been we both want to complete our degrees, but there will be a third member of our family before that happens.”


“I’m looking into the possibility of transferring to Browns next year,” Simon said as he held Bobbi’s hand, “and finishing my degree here.  Either that or taking a year out – I’ll discuss it further with my tutors when ‘I get back after this week.”


“Does Cambridge allow a gap year?”


“In special circumstances, yes – I could try and get an internship somewhere here in New York for example.”







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